Educating Generations of Future Leaders

The Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Indianapolis, Indiana
October 19, 2012


I have often said that the remarkable role played by philanthropy has been an essential component in helping to make the American system of higher education the best in the world.

At Indiana University, the spirit of generosity and commitment to the institution exhibited by our alumni and friends has been—and continues to be—a cornerstone upon which the university’s excellence is built.

Today we celebrate that spirit of generosity and commitment as we gather to officially name the Robert H. McKinney School of Law and to express our deep gratitude to Bob McKinney.

Last December, I was delighted to announce that Bob McKinney had given an extremely generous gift of $24 million to the Indiana University Law School at Indianapolis and that, in honor of this gift, the school would thereafter be known as the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Bob’s extraordinarily generous gift was the largest gift in the history of the school, one of the largest private gifts in the history of the university, and one of the most generous gifts in the history of legal education in the United States.

Accompanying matching funds brought the total value of the gift to the law school to $31.5 million.

Bob’s enormous generosity will have a transformative effect on teaching and research at the school in the years to come and will provide major support for students.

By virtue of the gift, five endowed chairs are being established in the school. These endowed chairs will allow the McKinney School to recruit and retain nationally recognized scholar-teachers who will further strengthen programs in key strategic areas. A search is currently underway for the first of the five chairs—one in intellectual property that will be named for Chancellor Emeritus Gerald L. Bepko.

As part of the gift, a $17.5 million endowment has also been established to fund McKinney Family Scholarships that will enable many outstanding law students to attend the McKinney School.

More Than a Century of Leadership

With its roots in the Indiana Law School, a private, unaffiliated school which was organized in 1893 and which became a part of Indiana University in 1944, the school has enjoyed more than a century of success in preparing students for legal careers.

The school’s graduates have achieved prominent positions in business, the legal profession, the judiciary and other branches of government. 

Among the school’s more than 10,000 alumni are many local, state, and national leaders, including:

  • some 80 CEOs of companies headquartered in Indiana,
  • the current administrator of the United States Transportation Security Administration,
  • a former vice president of the United States,
  • several members of the United States Congress, and
  • both of the current major party candidates for governor of the State of Indiana.

This extraordinary record of success is a tribute to the school’s history of strong and energetic leadership, including, among others, former deans Susanah Mead, Bill Harvey, Norm Lefstein, and Jerry Bepko. I also want to extend my thanks to current Dean Gary Roberts, who continues this tradition of committed and dedicated leadership.

The transformative gift given by Bob McKinney—and the naming of the school in his honor—marks a new chapter in the school’s distinguished history. 

It strengthens the school’s ability to enroll the most promising students, those who, as graduates, will be effective advocates, will advance justice, and contribute to the public good in the nation and around the world.

A Tribute to Bob McKinney

Bob, who originally trained as an engineer, is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, the Naval Justice School, and of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. In fact, Bob began his legal studies here in Indianapolis, and finished in Bloomington, due, in part, to the need to earn his degree more quickly so that he could meet his military obligations. Bob had served in the Navy for three years in the Pacific Theater following his graduation from Annapolis, and, after earning his law degree, he served for two additional years in the Pacific during the Korean War.

His service to Indiana University has been exceptional. He served for a decade as a member of the IU Board of Trustees, and for a year as the board president. He currently serves as a member of the IU Foundation Board of Directors; as a member of the IUPUI Board of Advisors, a group that he also chaired; and as a member of the Board of Advisors for the Center on Congress at Indiana University.

Bob also served as a director of Clarian Health Partners, which, of course, is now IU Health, and as chair of Clarian’s Finance, Planning, and Human Resources Committee.

Of course, Bob’s service and expertise extend well beyond Indiana University.

He was a founding partner of Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, one of the largest law firms in Indianapolis, and he has been a highly successful leader in the Indianapolis business community for decades. He served for many years as chairman and CEO of First Indiana Corporation, the parent company of First Indiana Bank, which is now BMO Harris Bank.

Because of his commitment to community-based banking, Bob was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to chair multiple federal banking, insurance, mortgage and loan agencies. In those positions, he established model nondiscrimination regulations and championed community investment.

Bob has received Honorary Doctorates of Law from Marian College and Butler University. He is also a Master Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.


When Bob retired as chairman and CEO of First Indiana Corporation in 2005, Evan Bayh paid tribute to him on the floor of the United States Senate, saying that “Bob’s career shows his belief in the power of public policy to improve people’s lives. …It is a rare man who can make such an impact on so many people over the course of a career. Bob is admired by those who know him professionally and personally for his great integrity, commitment to serving the community, his concern for those less fortunate, (and for) his unswerving loyalty and dedication to his friends, family, and country.”1

All of us at Indiana University admire those same qualities in Bob.

On behalf of the university, let me say again how deeply grateful we are to Bob and his family for their generosity and support.

Your generosity will touch the lives of countless students, faculty, and staff, and it will help Indiana University to continue to thrive for generations to come.

Source Notes

  1. Evan Bayh, “Honoring the Career of Robert H. McKinney,” Congressional Record of the 109th Congress, URL:, Retrieved October 16, 2012.